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Room to soothe the senses
9:00am Fri Apr 06, 2012
 
Extensive new facilities have been unveiled at a school that helps children with autism.
In one of the new rooms at Hope House School are, from the left, teacher Mrs Georgia Mareland, the school’s founder, Mrs Terri Westmoreland, and teaching assistant Mrs Deborah Staples.
In one of the new rooms at Hope House School are, from the left, teacher Mrs Georgia Mareland, the school’s founder, Mrs Terri Westmoreland, and teaching assistant Mrs Deborah Staples.
Hope House School, Barnby Road, Newark, on Monday opened a new activity room, sensory integration suite, kitchen, calming room and adventure playground.

The refurbishment of two bungalows at the site was paid for with £67,500 in grants from Nottinghamshire County Council.

The improved facilities at the school will enable it to hold more clubs for autistic youngsters.

Mrs Terri Westmoreland, who founded the school, said: “We can now take up to 120 children a week, which is a massive difference.

“Before, we held only two clubs a week but now we will have clubs every night for about 20 children.

“I am over the moon. We have the facilities for more children as a school and we have more facilities for the evening, which gives parents a break.

“The difference that can make, to have a break from looking after a child 24 hours a day, is immeasurable.”

The new sensory integration suite will provide facilities such as tactile walls, coloured lights and music to help children.

The calming room will provide an area for relaxation for children who need it.

Mrs Westmoreland said: “If you have a child who is very sensitive to noise, for example, they can use the sensory suite to help them become accustomed to it gradually.”

Other groups that will use the facilities include art, dance and youth clubs and a cinema club.

The chairman of the county council, Mr Keith Walker, was at the official opening and had a tour of the facilities.

Some of the children and families who use the school looked round in the afternoon and took part in an Easter-egg hunt.

There was also a fundraising raffle.

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